By Beth O’Brien, reporting for Bluebonnet News of Montgomery County
More than 35 organizations will be a part of an anti-trafficking event hosted by the Montgomery County Coalition against Human Trafficking. The Coalition, started in 2015, is a partnership of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, government and non-governmental organizations, churches, social service agencies and others who have a mission to eliminate human trafficking in Montgomery County.
“They all have specific roles in how they’re fighting human trafficking: awareness, education, prevention, survivor services,” said Prosecutor Tyler Dunman with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office. “People can come and find out what these groups are doing and found out how they can engage with these groups.”
Dunman said he often gets asked from citizens how they can help in the fight against human trafficking and child exploitation.
“Really, besides educating yourself, the next thing you can do is connect with one of these organizations, and become a volunteer, either with your time, your talent, your finances, whatever it is.”
Dunman said he hopes the event will bring citizens and these organizations together to make that connection.
“Human trafficking is often confused, I guess, and what it typically involves is women and kids, obviously, sometimes men and boys that are exploited and forced to do things they don’t want to do,” Dunman said. “Whether it be they’re forced to work for free in kind of a forced labor slavery situation – sometimes we see that with day labor sites and in the restaurant industry.”
Dunman said they also see in a lot of sexual exploitation cases where either a child or an adult is forced to engage in sex for money, under the threat of force, fraud or coercion by someone else.
“It’s something that’s happening here in Montgomery County. It has been and it’s happening all across the state and the country,” Dunman said. “These operations (human trafficking operations like the one conducted in Kingwood recently) are not a reflection of anything other than us being proactive, trying to catch these traffickers and rescue the victims.”
The Anti-Trafficking Community Event is Oct. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, Harvest Worship Area, located at 2200 Lake Woodlands Drive. It’s free and open to the public.